In his blog Doing Magick , that everyone who reads me should be following, Frater POS very kindly recommends Strategic Sorcery at the end of an excellent post of his on How to See. So I feel like it might be a good time for me to write a bit on sight here.
I would actually not be an occultist if it were not for the ability to see, starting with a very intense mystical experience at age five. As I have mentioned in my old blog on LJ: some people get involved in magick so that they can see and hear spirits. Others of us get involved so that we can stop. Or at least take the reins of the experience.
Even though I had a lot of experiences with “second site” as a child, these experiences stopped by age 7 and with a few notable exceptions, I didn’t start seeing again regularly until I started working my way through Don Kraig’s Modern Magick at the age of 15. Many of the same rituals that Frater POS mentions in his post: LBRP, Middle Pillar, and others in the GD/Crowley vein, were part of my daily life until my angel had me take up Tibetan Magick in 1996, at the age of 24. So, although these practices wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my list of recommendations, I can’t knock them either. They did right by me for 9 years and serve others well today.
Before I get into training the psychic vision, I want to mention the difference between visualization and seeing. Visualization in magick is a creative act, seeing is an act of perception. When a magician is training in doing an LBRP he is visualizing pentagrams, the act of forcing the mind to see them is actually a method of directing the will and energy to create the pentagram. He may be able to see the pentagram after it is visualized, but it is not the same thing, and the difference is important.
In Tibetan magick, this difference is even more crucial. Most of the Kye Rim practices (generation stage) entail very intense visualization of mandalas to train the mind to replace ordinary vision with a karnically pure vision. These get quite complex. The first mandala that I was initiated into was Vajrakilaya which has 50 dieties in it, all of who are different colors and carry different implements in their hands. Even the palace they are in is detailed, having walls made of three layers of skulls (fresh, rotting, and bone) and entrails as tapestries, and so on. This in turn is all built upon a mountain of four elemental platforms and surrounded by eight charnel grounds. Etc Etc.
This intense visualization is contrived by the mind at the beginning of the ritual. At a later point in the ritual the powers of the mandala are invoked to inhabit the visualization, at which point, with practice you might be able see the mandala rather than visualize it. This then would signal the ability to move into Dzog Rim or completion stage work.
In Dzogchen the difference is quite crucial as the final stage Thogyal, entails resting in the natural state of mind (rigpa) and using light and darkness to see reality break down into its composite elements. All the instructions for Thogyal are very clear that visualization must be avoided at all costs, and that seeing is what is needed.
LBRP and other rituals that rely upon visualization can eventually lead to seeing in the same way that the visualized mandala eventually gives way to the sight of the actual mandala. There are however, ways of training yourself in the sight specifically. One of my favorites is a vision exercise that I call reality folding.
In this exercise you should face a wide vista without to many moving elements in it. If you are outside the sun should be at your back, and there shouldn’t be too many people your view. If you are inside, pick a place where the walls are a good distance away from you. Sit or stand with your back straight so that the winds enter the central channel. Start off by taking in a 180* gaze, not focusing on anything in particular. Many occultists have noted that this technique is enough to get many people seeing astral and etheric events at the periphery of their vision. If this happens do not pay attention to them, and definitely do not shift your gaze to them. While there are other exercises that focus on peripheral psychic sight, this is not one of them.
Once you are comfortable in the 180* gaze, imagine that everything you see is actually on a two dimensional surface in front of you, like a painting or a film screen. Spend some time on this, and really let your brain start to re-interpret the images as 2-D. Next reach out with your mind and consider what is on the other side of the screen. At this point, many of my students have reported a feeling of being watched or a feeling of spirits in the spaces around them outside of the field of vision.
Lastly, mentally will the screen to fold. Start with the corned of it. Just will the edge to fold down upon itself. This is a hard concept to grasp for some people, but others take to it right away.
You may see something. You may see nothing. Either is fine because this is not a gaze that you would actually use in active operations with spirits. At least, that’s not its primary purpose. It is an exercise to train the brain to allow an extra dimension to be perceived. By regular practice of collapsing the 3-D world into 2-D you leave a vacant space for your mind to fill. This practice is greatly aided by gestures like the splitting of space or rending of the veil. Certain yogic positions, such the aforementioned Thogyal positions, will also greatly aid seeing. Some of these positions are secret, but some can be found in Heart Drops of the Dharmakaya by Lopon Tenzin Namdak.